Teaching English online: VIPKID

Last fall, I started teaching English online with VIPKID (this is partially the reason this blog was neglected for a few months!) If you’ve ever job searched online, you’ve seen postings for online English teachers. There are quite a few companies and I kind of always thought they were scams. A friend in our ward has been with VIPKID for a few years and assured me it’s not a scam and now that I’m a teacher with them I can also assure you it’s a legit and great way to earn extra income.

My favorite thing about it is the flexibility! There’s not a minimum of required hours or classes so I set my schedule. I open my time slots between 8:30-11 pm after the kids go to sleep. I still play soccer on Thursdays and Fridays so if I have a late game, I can adjust my schedule.

I also love teaching the kids. I work with the older kids, they are usually between 8-12. Most all of them take English in school and have been studying for a few years so they have a good background. Most all the kids I’ve taught have been excited about learning and are well behaved.

Things to know about getting hired at VIPKID:

-You need a Bachelor’s degree

-You need to be eligible to work in the US or Canada

-You need at least a year of previous teaching experience (not necessarily teaching English. It can be tutoring, coaching, etc)

-You need to be a native English speaker

-You need a computer, internet access, working camera and microphone (I use this headset)

Things to know about working with VIPKID:

-Each class is 25 minutes long, one on one with the student.

All the lessons are prepared for you! There are about 25-30 slides you go through with the student. All the slides have instructions that only the teacher sees.

-After each class, you write feedback.

-You are paid a base pay, plus a base for each completed class. There are more incentives as well. My base pay is $8 per class. The base pays range between $7-$9 per class. The base pay is determined by your trial class during the application. Teachers are paid every month.

-Part of the application process is teaching a trial demo class (to a VIPKID teacher acting as a student or film yourself teaching an invisible student).

-VIPKID has a mobile and desktop app which make it easy to check your schedule, see information about the student and preview the lesson.

-During the lessons, there is always tech support who they call Firemen. They are always available to help with technical issues (for example your microphone, camera, if the student can’t hear you, etc).

-VIPKID utilizes “TPR” which means ‘total physical response’. This method uses hand gestures in coordination with language teaching. A simple example, is pointing to your eye while saying the word ‘see’.

-Students earn rewards (5 stars) and teacher use reward systems they create, here’s one example of one I’ve made:

-Lessons are not guaranteed. You may go a while when you’re first hired with open time slots and no booked lessons. It took me about 2 months before I started getting regular and more consistent bookings.

Teaching English online VIPKID

The Bottom Line:

If you meet all the requirements, enjoy teaching and working with kids and need a flexible schedule, VIPKID is for you! It’s not enough income to pay a mortgage but it’s a great wage especially since there’s no lesson prep on your part.

I’ve tried to address all the questions I had when I was applying and when I first started teaching. Overall, VIPKID is a great program with awesome students! It’s been a great way for me to make a little income, connect with students and not have to leave my house or kids since they are asleep when I’m teaching. If you’re interested in applying, start here!

My referral code is ‘JENNI1230’ or you can click any of the links above.

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5 ways to increase your self confidence

No matter who you are, there are always situations where you may wish for a bit more self confidence. I think I was pretty shy as a child and learning to speak to adults and really anyone is something I learned a lot on my mission. While I’m not the most self confident person in the world, I do feel that with practice, I’m able to talk to basically anyone. Here are 5 things that have helped me:

1.Firm handshake – a firm handshake can convey that you are a strong and confident person. You don’t need to use a death grip when shaking someone’s hand but you should also try to avoid the ‘dead fish’ handshake.

2. Good posture – body language says a lot about you and your personality. Standing tall can make you feel and appear more confident even if you are feeling nervous. Pull your shoulders back because you are in charge.

3. Have a quick look to appear ‘put together’  – Doing something small can often help you feel more ‘put together’ with your best face forward and more confident. This doesn’t mean you have to be extra fancy or wear a lot of make up. Often looking your best can help you feel your best. I find that small things like having my nails nice or painted, I feel more ‘put together’. Other small ways to look and feel your best include brushing your hair, adding an accessory like earrings, putting on a lip color, cleaning your shoes from any scuffs, etc.

4. Whiten your teeth – smile with confidence by using a teeth whitener. My favorite is the teeth whitening system from Smile Brilliant (save $25 with code ‘jamtartmd25’). The trays are custom fit to mold to your teeth. It comes with whitening gels to use in the trays followed by a desensitizing gel. To see my previous results, click here.

5. Pretend that everyone likes you – whether it’s meeting new people or giving a presentation or speech, pretend that everyone already likes you and are friends.With this mindset, you can overcome hesitation, fear, or nervousness. Chances are that they like you anyway!

5 ways to increase self confidence

5 ways to increase self confidence

Romper from Carissa Miss, an awesome apparel shop where 100% of the proceeds goes towards the National Footsteps for Fertility grant.

Stop now and do this stretch!

One of the most use body parts that we often forgot to stretch is our hands and forearms! Most everyone uses their hands all day whether it’s kids playing, writing at school, typing on a computer or phone, working, cooking, cleaning, driving, etc.

This stretch below is one of my most favorite stretches that instantly relieves any tension in the wrist and forearm. It only takes a few seconds but is crucial for good wrist health and flexibility. This stretch and other simple stretches such as wrist rotations can help prevent wrist fatigue, pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome or overuse.

Extend arm with fingers towards the ground. Use the opposite hand to gently pull fingers back towards your body. (Stop if you feel any pain!)wrist forearm stretchwrist forearm stretch

Extend arm with fingers pointed towards the sky. Use opposite hand to gently pull fingers back towards your body.

wrist forearm stretch

These stretches are so great for any repetitious action especially working on a computer or phone. Even after playing the piano, cleaning, washing dishes, knitting, or driving for a long time my hands, wrists and forearms can be tight or exhausted and I find it so beneficial to stretch them.

Other awesome stretches for the hands, wrists and forearm include wrist rolls, squeezing a tennis ball or stress ball and the prayer pose stretch.

Bruce’s Best Pet Products (corgi edition)

Bruce has been part of out family now for 6 years! I still remember picking him up as a 6 week old puppy down on the farm in Virginia where his breeder lived. He was small enough to fit in a messenger bag. Dave grew up with a little dog and I always wanted one so Dave got Bruce as my birthday surprise!  I feel that owning a puppy and going through all the steps to train it is great preparation for becoming parents.  You learn to work together with your partner, house training, crate training, how to deal with different pet personalities, differences in ‘parenting’ styles, how to take care of an animal, scheduling (feeding, walking, etc) and the versatility you need as a parent when issues arrive with your pet like illness, chewing, social issues, etc. You go through a lot of trial and error with training pets, much of what happens when you are parents. Over the last six years, we’ve discovered some awesome dog products that are pretty essential to keeping the house clean and blatantly obvious that we have a dog.

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  1. FURminator – far and away my top pet item! This brush is designed to comb both the over and under coat of a dog. It’s pricier than regular brushes but 100 times more effective! Corgis shed quite a bit, especially during seasonal changes like winter to summer, and the furminator has been invaluable in reducing the amount of hairs that get shed in the house. It’s easy to use and doesn’t hurt the pet or cut the hairs. The metal brush pulls the hairs from both coats. We furminate Bruce maybe once a month depending on the season but corgis have so much fur, I feel like he could be furminated everyday sometimes! These brushes are sold for dogs and cats and different brushes depending on the size of your pet.
  2. Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Remover Spray – when house training a pet you’ll have accidents. This spray is great for eliminating odors and stains from carpet. We’ve found it to be very effective and have never had any stains on our carpets. It’s easy to use as well. After an accident (urine), soak up with a paper towel as much as you can, spray the Nature’s Miracle into the carpet and let it absorb. The carpet should be wet. Let the spray sit and absorb for approximately 20 minutes the blot it with a paper towel. The carpet won’t be completely dry and you can just let it air dry (no need for fans, etc).
  3. Lint Rollers in bulk (Scotch-Brite) – Lint rollers are pretty essential if you have a dog or cat breed that sheds. In addition to furminating Bruce and general cleaning the house, these lint rollers are great for couches, clothes, cars, blankets, etc. We like this brand because it does a good job  picking up stray hairs, is sold in bulk packages and the sheets are easy to tear.
  4. Harness Leash – for years we had a retractable leash because it was easy to use, hold and what we were used to since Bruce has a lot of energy when we go on walks. Our friend in Salt Lake, also a corgi owner, who used to dog sit Bruce suggested we get a harness leash so he doesn’t pull as much. Our current leash obviously isn’t as long as a retractable leash but he doesn’t pull at all when we leave the house to go on a walk.
  5. Food storage container – dog food can be pretty stinky and we love this container that we have to store his food. It has a lid that locks so prevent spilling if it ever tips and looks nice. The one we have isn’t specifically made for dog food (it’s basically a trash can with a locking lid).

corgi

7 ways to fight a cold: winter survival tips

We’ve lived in some cold places throughout our 10 years of marriage like DC, Utah and Scotland and this winter in LA should be pleasant! Even though it’s warmer it doesn’t prevent sickness and colds from spreading. Here are some of my favorite things in the winter to fight a cold (not sponsored, just some things I loved that have worked for me!)

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Vitamin C –  I like to use Emergen-C drink mix that you mix into water to boost your immunity. It’s similar to drinking a glass of orange juice but convenient if you don’t have juice on hand (we usually don’t because it’s a lot of sugar and the kids will drink it all, ha, ha). Vitamin C doesn’t get rid of a cold but it can help reduce the symptoms of the illness. I’d also add hand sanitizer. I always carry a travel size bottle – it wont get rid of a cold but can help prevent catching a cold.

Vicks VapoRub – If I feel a sore throat, cold or congestion coming on, I’ll use Vick’s rub on my throat. It contains menthol and eucalyptus oil which help soothe a cough, congestion and also sore muscles.

Humidifier – increased humidity can help with a cough, cold, dry skin, etc. I like to use my humidifier at night next to my bed.

Water and hydration – I always carry my Hydro Flask with me and try to increase my water intake when a feel like I might be getting sick. Increased hydration helps with so many bodily functions!

Saline salt nose spray – If I’m congested I’ll use a non-habit forming generic nasal spray from any drugstore and find it helps a lot with dry nasal membranes.

Gargling with warm salt water – This old wives tale actually has some truth, gargling with warm salt water helps flush out a virus and sooth a sore throat. The Mayo Clinic recommends 1/2 tablespoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water.

Peppermint Oil – I get this from any drugstore and like this roller style because it’s already diluted oil (so ready to use). Peppermint oil is awesome for so many things including sore, aching muscles, clearing sinuses (by breathing, not applying in a nostril), headaches, cramps, stomach pain. I’ll usually roll on some peppermint oil before bed to relieve any sore muscles (from an impending sickness or exercise).

Dessert Night

We’ve moved around quite a bit (ok, 10 times in 10 years of marriage!) and we recently started a new tradition we do shortly after moving in; it’s a fun way to make instant friends: dessert night!

We usually invite 5-10 families/couples from church and sometimes it’s just people we’ve only seen at church and have never met or have briefly talked to. It’s a great way to enjoy each other’s company, meet new people, and have delicious desserts. Ours are super casual on a Sunday night after dinner time. We usually make 4-5 desserts.

This last dessert night we hosted we made raspberry lemonade tarts, symphony brownies, lemon white chocolate chip cookies, and peach cobbler (with Blue Bell Vanilla Bean ice cream).

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How to update an older home on a small budget

Our first (town) home in Utah we bought  while it was being built so  we were able to pick the interior features – floors, carpet, colors, cabinets, counter tops, tile, etc. We loved that home, however we love to travel and see new places and wanted a home just a little bigger with a backyard for our kids and dog.

Our home here is Austin was built in the 90s and has a few updates like the floors, kitchen and master bathroom. Moving is fun but also usually more expensive than you anticipate. For example, the previous owners had cat door on the door between the garage and the interior of the home, which isn’t a big deal for us but the inspection said it’s actually a fire hazard so one more thing to update! Here are a few things we’ve found to update an older home on a very small budget:

  • paint – a fresh coat of paint can go a LONG way! We re-painted almost every room in the house and the garage (which was yellow and blue, looked like IKEA ha, ha). We used the Behr brand paint from Home Depot.
  • cabinet hardware – we added drawer pulls from Amazon that weren’t too expensive (other good options were from Home Depot and Anthropologie)
  • new window treatments – I love natural light so we just replaced the brown curtains with white ones (from Target)
  • update outlet and light switch plate covers – we like these white ones from Amazon to replace the previous brown and/or metal ones

Updates we want to do in the future:

  • replace older light fixtures
  • new exterior doors
  • matching doorknobs – why did the previous owner have so many mismatching doorknobs?! We’ll never know ha, ha…
  • epoxy the garage – we have this epoxy kit from Amazon but have to finish clearing out the garage before using it.

Other ideas for updating an older home:

  • new light fixtures
  • add a large mirror – the reflective light can often brighten a space or make it appear larger
  • update faucets
  • re-paint cabinets
  • replace floors or old carpet (I love wood, laminate and tile that looks like wood)
  • update counter tops (I love granite and marble)

Our home has been a labor of love, but we appreciate it and the new city we live in!

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